Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Recorder Concertos
Flute Concerto, Op. 10 No. 1 in F major, RV 433 'La tempesta di mare' [6:31]
Concerto in A minor RV 445 [9:46]
Recorder Concerto in C minor, RV441 [10:29]
Flute Concerto, Op. 10 No. 3 in D major, RV 428 'Il gardellino' [10:11]
Flute Concerto, Op. 10 No. 2 in G minor, RV 439 'La notte' [8:08]
Flautino Concerto in C major, RV443 [11:23]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Recorder Sonatas
Sonata in G major, Op. 1, No. 5 [7:55]
Sonata in G minor for recorder and continuo, HWV360, Op. 1 No. 2 [8:17]
Sonata in C major for recorder and continuo, HWV365, Op. 1 No. 7 [10:13]
Keyboard Suite, HWV 430 in E major 'The Harmonious Blacksmith' [3:48]
Flute Sonata in D major, HWV 378 [6:46]
Sonata in F major for recorder and continuo, HWV369, Op. 1 No. 11 [7:06]
Sonata in D minor for recorder and continuo, HWV367a, Op. 1 No. 9a 'Fitzwilliam III' [9:11]
Piers Adams (recorders) with
Musica da Camera in Vivaldi
Howard Beach (harpsichord and organ); David Watkin (cello) in Handel
rec. November 1988, Radley College, Abingdon (Vivaldi) and November 1989 St Dunstan’s Church, Cheam (Handel)
RED PRIEST RP008 [56:40 + 59:13]
In the Vivaldi the small band of Musica da Camera contains some luminaries of the Early Music scene: Roy Goodman, who leads, fellow violinist Miles Golding, violist Jane Compton, cellist Jane Coe, double bassist Many MacNamara and Robert King at the harpsichord and organ 
Adams plays three sopranino recorders and three treble, sensibly alternating them during the programme. Adams is a virtuosic performer, bringing zest to the outer movements and especial vitality to the Presto finale of La Tempesta di Mare, one of Vivaldi’s best known concertos. His avian sopranino trills gracefully in the opening of the Concerto in A, RV445, and on the treble he deals splendidly with the tricky divisions in opening Allegro. This concerto’s spare declamation in its Largo is another high point. Referring earlier to the avian aspects of the sopranino writing, one arrives at the Concerto in D major, RV428 with particular expectation. This is the Goldfinch (‘Il Gardellino’) concerto and a performer has to characterise the bird’s fluting, fluttering, and trilling luminescence if the concerto is to truly come across. That Adams certainly does. So, too, does he convey the bird’s more pleading aspects in the concerto’s finale. La Notte for treble recording – it’s the Concerto in G minor, RV439 – was re-recorded by Adams as a member of Red Priest a number of years later, but this earlier version, far more sedate and less hallucinatory than that later one, has a classical poise to it.
The companion Handel sonatas disc happily balances the contemporaries in concerto and chamber music. Here Adams sports descant and treble recorders as well as voice flute. The Sonata in G major Op1 No.5 was arranged from the Flute original and survives this practical work well. Tempi throughout are sensible and Adams’ colleagues – Howard Beach, harpsichord and organ, and David Watkins, cello – are happily supportive collaborators. Sometimes one worries about over-decoration. The Sonata in D major, HWV378 for voice flute is a case in point, though the finale is rightly buoyant. The recording isn’t desperately well-balanced and despite their best intentions Beach’s harpsichord playing is sometimes too distant, emerging a bit wishy-washy. That’s a shame, though not fatal to enjoyment.
The coupling is not wholly apt, if forced to confront the point, and yet not completely unapt.
Jonathan Woolf
Trilling luminescence … classical poise.